Horse Scout Blogger was thinking about the way a horse wriggles his nose in your hand. It’s a funny feeling and somehow very friendly. We all know a nose is for breathing and for smelling but horses use their noses for other things too!
Horses use their lips the way people use their hands—to touch, explore, and sense the world around them. Horses engage in mutual grooming, and he might be putting his nose by yours to invite you to scratch his nose or groom his face. A horse who puts his nose in your face may be trying to use his mouth to gently touch you, the way he might greet another horse.
Another reason horses put their noses in your face is to show affection. Horses show affection for one another by gently blowing into each other’s nostrils, and your horse may be trying to show affection for you as if you were another horse. Mares nuzzle their foals, and reaching out to touch your face may be how your horse says “I love you” in a similar way.
Horses have different fields of vision from humans, and they often move their heads simply so they can see better. A horse has binocular vision to the front but a blind spot directly in front of his nose. He may be moving his head closer to yours so he can get a better look at you if you’re in his blind spot.
4. Learned Behavior
Horses may also duck their noses to your face if they’ve learned that people bring them treats. In their eagerness to get treats, they may move quickly into your space. They may also have learned along the way that such behavior is rewarded with affectionate pets or scratches. Unless this behavior bothers you or turns into nipping, it’s usually fine. To get a horse to stop doing this, tap him on the chest to get him to back up.
Be cautious about strange horses putting their noses to your face and never encourage this behavior. Horses do have big teeth. I know a lady who got her nose bitten off when she used to feed her horse carrots from her mouth.